First the big guns came to town….SecDef and SecState and waltzed in front of the US Senate and lied their asses off…..that may not be fair….they were told what to say to Senators (The Trump Line)……and apparently it was all bullsh*t.
To their benefit I will say that some Senators were put off because the CIA head was not in line to brief and they, Senators, wanted to know why…..
Their threats and bitching got the CIA director a trip to brief a few Senators……
Last week’s Senate briefings surrounding a challenge to the Yemen War were less about the limited testimonies of Mike Pompeo and James Mattis than about the conspicuous absence of CIA Director Gina Haspel. That, and reported admissions from the secretaries that she was forbidden from attending the closed door briefing, fueled a lot of anger in the Senate, and by extension growing resistance to the Yemen War.
In a sign that the White House fears losing the war vote outright, they’re now letting Haspel hold her own briefing Tuesday, for a very limited audience of what the administration believes are “key” senators, mostly committee leaders.
The focus of this briefing will be Saudi Arabia’s murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and the CIA’s assessment that the Saudi Crown Prince was involved. The murder is adding to pressure in Congress to stop supporting Saudi wars, and Yemen would be the obvious choice in that regard.
Letting Haspel testify is a concession to the Senate, but the big question will be what she says. Clearly the whole reason she wasn’t allowed in the first place was fear she’d back the CIA’s assessment and hurt the Saudis. If she still does that, it would be strange to think it would placate any senators.
After the briefing the Senators came before the cameras and made the case of MbS being a killer……
Senators came out of a closed-door briefing with CIA Director Gina Haspel on Tuesday with some pretty unequivocal opinions about Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in Jamal Khashoggi’s October death. What you need to know:
- Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker put it like so: “If the Crown Prince went in front of a jury, he would be convicted in 30 minutes.”
- NPR points out that when senators were briefed by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week, Mattis said there was no “smoking gun” that showed the crown prince’s hand in the murder. Sen. Lindsey Graham picked up that thread Tuesday, saying there may not be a smoking gun, but there is a “smoking saw,” a reference to the bone saw allegedly used to dismember the journalist in Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul. He added there is “zero chance” the crown prince, whom he described as a “wrecking ball,” didn’t play a part, reports the AP.
- And the New York Times has this from Sen. Richard Shelby: “All evidence points to that, that all this leads back to the crown prince. This is conduct that none of us in America would approve of in any way.”
- The Washington Post’s take: “Senators put themselves in direct opposition to the White House, making clear that the evidence they heard had convinced them beyond the shadow of a doubt.”
- And while they were fairly united as it relates to Prince Mohammed, the Times sees senators as being much less unified when it comes to where to go from here, on the heels of last week’s vote to consider ending the US’ involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The Hill has much more on the efforts and sticking points around the legislation here.
- The AP reports that vote set up debate on the resolution, but when, or even whether, that will happen is unclear, as senators are considering whether to amend the measure, and, if so, how.
- As for who was allowed to participate in the briefing, the Post reports only Senate leaders and the ranking senators on select committees involved in national security and Saudi policy as it relates to Yemen were included.
Politico reports Rand Paul didn’t number among them, and he wasn’t pleased with that, saying all senators should have heard Haspel’s testimony. “There are eight people in Congress who get briefings on intelligence. That is not democracy. That is not democratic representation nor is it democratic oversight. I think the very definition of the deep state is when the intelligence communities withhold information from Congress.”
My apologies to Haspel for I thought that her time away from first briefing was that the admin was trying to get all lies to confirm their, the admin, position.
And now that the “rest of the story” has been told there seems to be a “showdown” in the Senate brewing….
The Senate is barreling toward a floor brawl over how to respond to Saudi Arabia’s role in the slaying of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Senators took a significant step this week advancing a bipartisan resolution to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen, marking a sharp break from President Trump, who has stood by Riyadh and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, even in the face of reports that the prince personally ordered Khashoggi’s death.
But now, lawmakers need to figure out what a final bill will look like as they prepare to take a next step of bringing the resolution up for debate — and a potentially raucous floor drama. The war powers fight is uncharted waters for a Senate that has repeatedly rejected attempts to challenge the White House’s war authority.
It will be telling by the conclusion of this Senatorial fight……admin and Senate at odds…cannot end well for either side….but will win this battle?